By Beth Moore
Living Proof Ministries
The word of God is living and powerful,
and sharper than any two-edged sword.
—Hebrews 4:12 NKJV
If we adults think that the pressures of the world are almost
unbearable, we don’t have a clue. Most of us have enough
years on us to recognize that we’re spinning out of control,
to locate the negative power source, and to pull the plug on the
treadmill if we’re serious enough about changing. I am completely
convinced, however, that Satan has launched a full-scale attack
on our young people that is so shrewd, powerful, and encompassing
that they don’t even know what has hit them.
I was painfully reminded of one dimension of this attack recently
when I came across a stack of old-fashioned magazines. Not all
feathers left in our nests provoke happy memories. One of the
things I like best about God, however, is that He can redeem absolutely
anything. The family memory I want to share in this reflection
is not pleasant. I choose to share it because it’s important.
Although I can’t say that I’m necessarily glad to
have had this feather in my nest, I wouldn’t trade the precious
little sparrow that left it there for anything in the world. Furthermore,
I wouldn’t trade what God redeemed out of this one “feather”
for a whole handful of happier ones.
I am alarmed about our young people. I wish I could say that
my alarm has come strictly from what I’ve seen and heard
through my travels, but that’s not true. Although what I’ve
seen “out there” among our youth would be enough to
scare a soul half to death, I know more than I ever wanted to
know firsthand. Satan came calling for my own children.
He wanted not only to disable any potential they had to make his
life miserable but also to get to their parents. Satan knows that
one of the most effective ways to get to any of us in ministry
is to get to our children. He got my attention all right. Then
God got my attention. The Devil didn’t get the
full victory he wanted in those battles, but neither the girls
nor I would mind telling you that he left them pretty bloody.
Satan tailors his schemes to fit his subject; therefore, my girls’
battles took on different forms. Amanda discovered the vivid reality
of Jesus Christ through her own personal difficulties. Thankfully,
Satan never got far enough with her to threaten her life. But
I want to share a little bit about Melissa’s battle because
hers had the potential to be deadly. Yes, I mean that it literally
could have killed her. She is just one of untold thousands of
otherwise sound-thinking, successful Christian young women who
have fallen into this life-threatening brand of satanic snare.
Melissa is very vocal about her experience and passionately desires
that Satan be exposed, and I have not only her permission but
also her encouragement to share this.
I’m going to allow Melissa to share her own story through
an excerpt from a paper she wrote for one of her college classes.
She is one of the gutsiest young women I’ve ever met, willing
to let herself look weak so that God’s strength can be revealed
and the Devil can be defeated.
It was homecoming, the biggest event of the year for a high-school
girl. I was getting ready for the football game. This particular
year I was up for homecoming queen, and my dad was there to
escort me down the football field. The four other girls and
I were anxiously waiting for the life-or-death call.
I had on a Georgiou suit for the occasion and a very expensive
formal for the dance. I had an appointment with a makeup artist
and manicurist before the dance. I had spent tons of money at
a tanning salon hoping that the tanning beds could make me look
better. I was the size that I wanted to be due to the fact that
I had not eaten in months. I was everything that Hollywood was
telling me that I had to be. I was deathly skinny, popular,
and completely miserable.
The morning after the event was over, I woke up to the smell
of warm blueberry muffins. I walked downstairs only to see the
norm. My mom was sitting in the dining room doing her “quiet
time.” Her “quiet time” was the time she spent
alone with God each day. Without catching her attention, I watched
her. She was in her old, faded pink robe. Her hair was a mess,
and she did not have on a hint of makeup, but she looked so
I had watched her do her “quiet time” for seventeen
years, but it had never caught my attention like this. There
was something about that day that was absolutely brilliant.
Her face was radiant. I saw her sitting there in her chair and
knew that she was truly satisfied. I wanted what she had. She
was confident about who she was, even without makeup on. I envied
her. I wanted to have whatever it was that fulfilled her.
I tiptoed up the stairs and dug around in my drawers. Finally,
I found my own dusty Bible I had shoved in the drawer every
Sunday after church. As I cracked open the Bible, I felt immediate
renewal. I felt that I had some kind of energy somewhere deep
inside my soul. I flipped through the pages and read words that
I did not understand. But I knew that they meant something powerful.
I could feel the power. I remember staring at a verse that told
me who I was in Christ. It said that my body was not my own
and that my body was the temple of the Holy Spirit. I found
that my identity was in Christ, Himself. That was refreshing
to me, because I hated myself.
I looked up from the pages of the Bible to the walls that surrounded
me. I felt instant oppression. The walls were covered with magazine
cutouts of Elizabeth Hurley and Kate Moss. The walls were overlapped
with pictures of women that resembled skeletons. I tacked these
on my walls to remind myself that I was forbidden to eat and
that I was fat. I would not pass the pictures without a deep
feeling of worthlessness and shame.
A few minutes later I heard my mom walking up the stairs. She
said, “Melissa where are you? What are you doing?”
The tears streamed down my face. She wrapped me up in her arms
and read me the words of King David in Psalms. The words gently
soothed my ears and my heart. One by one, my mom and I ripped
off the magazine pictures. I bitterly threw the pictures in
the trash and walked away in agony. I spent the rest of the
day trying to differentiate between who the world wanted me
to be and who God wanted me to be. I sat at the computer and
typed out Scripture and printed it out. I replaced the bare
walls with God’s Word. . . .
It was a parent’s worst nightmare, and it barreled out of
control so fast that our heads were left spinning. Melissa was
not a troubled child. She was a deeply loved, very well-adjusted
child who had received countless accolades for her successes in
all sorts of areas. She was a darling size 6 who couldn’t
have cared less how many French fries she ate. Then suddenly,
through a toxic cocktail of just the right conditions, her little
world started quaking. The first I realized the pressure that
girls her age were under was a year or so earlier when I took
both her and her sister to a nice mall in Houston to try on prom
dresses. I took two completely happy, well-adjusted size 6 daughters
into the mall, and two hours later left with two terribly depressed
teenagers who were convinced that they were fat and ugly. I was
so mortified over the mannequins in the windows that I finally
checked the dress size on one of them. It was a 2. The girls seemed
to forget the trauma over the next few days, but I never could
get the experience out of my head. A red flag started waving,
but I also knew that I had to be careful not to overreact or over
Time passed without any real signs of oncoming trouble. Melissa
had quite an eye for putting clothes together and had decided
that she wanted to be a fashion design major when she entered
college. She began looking through more and more fashion magazines.
I grew concerned and started dialoguing with her about them immediately.
I always had to be careful about how I dealt with Melissa. She
was the type of child who could have knee-jerked with total rebellion
if we forbade her every single potential hazard. Her weight and
her attitude remained steady and visibly unaffected, so I just
continued to watch and pray. Then something unforeseeable happened.
About two months before the events she described in her paper,
someone very dear to Melissa moved literally to the other side
of the world. She was absolutely heartbroken. Melissa is much
like her mother in that she doesn’t just love with her heart.
She seems to love with her whole being, so when she gets hurt,
she hurts all over—heart, soul, mind, and body. With indescribable
alarm, Keith and I began to watch our gregarious child sink under
a cloak of despair. The lower her spirits sank, the less appetite
she had. Soon everything made her sick to her stomach. Weight
began rolling off of her like snow melting under a sudden summer
We immediately took her to doctor after doctor. We never could
get a physician to diagnose her with what we suspected. Each one
independently diagnosed that she was depressed over the difficult
losses she had suffered over the recent years. Her brother had
returned to his birth mother, her cherished grandmother had died,
and her big sister had gone to college. They each felt that her
friend’s departure had triggered a full-scale physical,
emotional, and mental response to the cumulative losses. Keith
and I concurred with their diagnosis, but we also felt that it
was leading to an eating disorder with a potential much deadlier
result than depression.
Here is the mind-blowing part of this scenario. While we were
trying to tell Melissa how sick her precious little body was and
how it was starving for food, her peers were telling her how fabulous
she looked. I cannot estimate the amount of praise she received
for being physically ill. Our precious young people have been
totally brainwashed by the media. Pictures on magazine covers
that have been doctored and air-brushed to look utterly perfect
have become their ideal. How in heaven’s name have we been
talked into buying “perfectionism” from such a grossly
In one form or another, it’s happened to all of us. The
difference is that our children are too young to fight it off
for themselves. They need our help. And not just from their parents.
They need the help of the educated, joyful, trustworthy, and Christ-confident
adult believers who will expose the lies and tell them truth.
Although many of them may choose not to listen, God will hold
us, as the adults of this generation, responsible to tell!
I urge you not to think for a single moment that I have become
an expert on dealing with teenage depression or eating disorders.
I have not. I would advise anyone in the same frightening situation
to do the same thing we did: mobilize and seek sound, godly counsel
and proper medical attention. I am far from an expert on eating
disorders, but I have learned a few things about warfare in my
time. Keith and I chose good doctors and counselors and let them
do their job. Then we did our job. We fought our heads off in
prayer and drew our swords like crazy, battling the enemy with
the Word of God. In the power of Jesus’ name, we absolutely
refused Satan any right to destroy our daughter’s life.
Thank goodness, we had Melissa’s cooperation! She wanted
to get better. She did not want to be captive to a stronghold
and, to the glory of God, the child did practically everything
we asked her. You see, no matter how Keith and I loved her and
fought for her, a measure of the battle was hers alone to fight.
We could teach her how and support her in prayer, but we couldn’t
“make her” do what the furious battle demanded.
Many of the Scripture passages in the chapter of Praying
God’s Word called “Overcoming Food-Related Strongholds”
were those we prayed over her and she prayed over herself. She
used them so much I had to laminate them. I believe that a key
to the victory God soon had in her came from her willingness to
forsake her pride. I gave her a list of Scriptures that I had
personalized by inserting her name in them and instructed her
to pray them every day. I never in a million years expected the
child to take them to high school with her! I would have thought
that she would have been too afraid someone would discover them.
Not only was she unafraid of being “discovered” but
also she came home to me one day and said, “Mom, I’m
going to need a new set of Scriptures. I shared mine with a friend
at school who needs them so badly.”
When Melissa pulled down the pictures of the bone-thin models
and replaced them with Scripture, she was unknowingly performing
a vivid demonstration of 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We demolish
arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the
knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it
obedient to Christ.” She tore down their pretension of perfection
and the arguments they raised against the truth of God’s
Those magazine pictures said something to Melissa contrary to
what God says about her. When she tore them down and replaced
them with the knowledge of God, she demonstrated in physical terms
what we’re to do in spiritual terms: take our thoughts captive
and make them obedient to Christ. If she had stopped with the
physical demonstration, little would have changed. Instead, she
began to practice spiritually what she had done physically. She
started allowing God’s Word to expose the lies she had believed,
and she began writing down and believing what He said about her
instead. The change didn’t come overnight. Change in habitual
thinking rarely does. But God used the process of time to do far
more than an instant healing would have accomplished. She learned
to trust Him, love Him, and depend on Him.
That’s when the most amazing thing of all happened. The
little that Melissa knew about God and His Word started whetting
an appetite in her that she couldn’t quench. She pleaded
with me to tell her how I came to love Him. She asked me questions
about His Word constantly. She studied portions of Scripture,
then asked me to listen to her thoughts on it to see if she was
interpreting it correctly. She got into in-depth Bible study and
went through Breaking Free with a group of college girls.
Her thirst for God began with desperation but developed into delight—just
like her mother’s did. And just as it did for thousands
of others who have been captured by the healing heart of God.
David was one of those. Psalm 18 is a testimony of his love for
God. It is the only psalm David began with the words “I
love you, O LORD, my strength” (v. 1), as if bursting at
the seams to testify. To me, his approach seems to suggest that
he couldn’t wait to work up to a crescendo. The psalm literally
began with his compulsory confession of intimate affection. Because
of my own experience, I have no trouble imagining why David loved
God so much. The words immediately following his outburst of love
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my
Somewhere along the way, the God of the universe—his father’s
God, and his grandfather’s God—had truly become his.
Their relationship became deeply intimate in a spiritual sense,
somewhat like the two described in the Song of Songs: “I
am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” (Song 6:3
I watched the same thing happen to Melissa. God was no longer
just her mother’s intimate partner. He became hers.
How? Perhaps David said it well for both of them in the very same
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster
[in other words, they took advantage of David’s
weakened state, just as the enemy took advantage
of Melissa’s after her loss],
but the LORD was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
I have watched God perform a staggering miracle. Before my very
eyes, over the course of a year, He took her disaster and used
it to teach her delight.
Her lessons in passion still continue today. No, I don’t
know about tomorrow, but I have to believe that what she learned
in her “yesterdays” will help draw her home in her
“tomorrows.” Melissa is a very young woman and has
plenty of battles in front of her, but she has a victory behind
her that sent Satan into a tailspin. For now, the child is head
over heels in love with Jesus. Her Bible looks like it’s
been through the dishwasher. Melissa knows where she’s “been
had” and has to live on her guard constantly. She may be
vulnerable to the same attack for many years, but at her young
age she has encountered a God more alive, active, and powerful
than she ever imagined.
Teach me your way, O LORD,
and I will walk in your truth; . . .
I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
Lord Jesus, how priceless to me is the power of Your Truth! With
humility and gratitude I worship You! For Your Word is alive and
active in me, and full of divine power to demolish every stronghold
in my life. I praise You, my Redeemer, for empowering me to triumph
victoriously over the evil one! My joy in You is everlasting!
More Inspirational Teaching on Spiritual Life
from Spiritual Life
Excerpted from Experiencing
the Great I Am: 40 Faith-Building Stories From Contemporary Christians
by Bryant and Cindy Heflin, eds. Copyright © 2005. Used by
permission of Kregel Publications.
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